Karmiel fires deputy mayor over anti-Arab racism

Official had founded a "night patrol" to allegedly keep Arabs out and an e-mail campaign to report Arabs buying homes.

By
November 4, 2010 18:52
3 minute read.
Karmiel Deputy Mayor Oren Milstein

OREN MILSTEIN 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Galilee city of Karmiel sacked its deputy mayor on Thursday in the wake of statements he made against Arabs and his founding of a “night patrol” that allegedly was setting up roadblocks to keep Arabs from surrounding villages out of the city.

Deputy Mayor Oren Milstein has also been linked to a recent e-mail campaign encouraging local residents to report on Arabs seeking to purchase or rent homes in the city, and on the Jewish landlords potentially doing business with them.

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Karmiel Mayor Adi Eldar said he dissolved the coalition that included Milstein because “local authorities must operate like welloiled machines, in which all the components cooperate with one another for the collective good. To our dismay, deputy mayor Oren Milstein did not conduct himself in this manner.”

Eldar added that “in my 22 years as mayor, I have always worked to advance Karmiel in every field possible and I won’t let any political forces hinder the good work of the municipality.”

Elder said that he is holding negotiations with members of the local Israel Beiteinu and Shas factions to form a new coalition.

In an e-mail sent to The Jerusalem Post Thursday, a spokesman for the Karmiel local government said that “recently, Oren Milstein has behaved like someone who is not a part of the Karmiel Municipality. He didn’t show up for meetings, canceled meetings with the mayor and also the cultural center’s managerial meetings. In addition, he made statements to the press on a wide variety of issues without any sort of outside coordination or consultation, expressing his personal opinions in a way that damaged the image of the city.”

Milstein’s troubles began in mid- September, when, during an interview with the newspaper B’sheva, he said, “Karmiel is a Jewish city, plain and simple. It was founded for the Jews of the Galilee and it is not right for Arab families to move here. In recent years, there has been an ongoing effort by our neighbors from the villages in the Western Galilee to live in Karmiel and we cannot ignore this phenomenon.”

In the wake of the controversy, Milstein said that the support of local voters “obligates me to protect the Jewish-Zionist color of Karmiel, increase the security of its residents, and make the city more lively and thriving.”

In early October, the left-wing group Gush Shalom reported that Milstein had set up an “extreme right racist militia” in Karmiel with the help of the local authority and the police. Gush Shalom sent a letter to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein in which it called for the immediate disbanding of the municipal guard, and called for police to open an investigation against Milstein.

The Gush Shalom report said that the volunteer guard had set up roadblocks at the entrances to the city during the night and would check the IDs of people attempting to enter the city, with the intent of turning away Arabs from neighboring Galilee villages.

For his part, Milstein said “like everywhere else in Israel, Karmiel operates a civil guard,” adding that the guard “is made up of people from all religions and has had very impressive accomplishments.”

On Thursday, Gush Shalom praised the mayor for “ending Milstein’s campaign of incitement in the city,” and called on the municipality to “immediately disband the racist militia operating in Karmiel that he set up.”


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